Elder Christofferson: Knowing Worth of Souls Important in Missionary Work

Contributed By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer

  • 8 July 2014

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks at the mission presidents’ seminar.  Photo by Welden Andersen.

Article Highlights

  • There is no greater work than missionary work.
  • Understanding the worth of a soul, a missionary must act with full appreciation of the divine nature in everyone he or she meets.
  • Missionaries will gain a heightened awareness of their own potential and a deepened understanding of what it will take to realize that potential.

“If you are filled with charity, those you teach and serve will feel it. They will not only respond to the love of Christ they feel through you, but many will also begin to gain a sense of their own infinite worth.” —Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve

PROVO, UTAH

To God, mortal men and women have infinite value, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declared June 24 to elders and sisters at a devotional emanating from the Provo Missionary Training Center and carried internationally to other missionary training centers.

In addition to young and senior missionaries, 129 mission presidents and their wives attended the devotional. The mission presidents were gathered at the center for four days of intensive training and spiritual edification prior to their departure for their individual fields of labor.

Referring to Genesis 1:27, which states God created man in His own image, Elder Christofferson observed that the statement is sometimes used as evidence of the corporeal nature of God.

“While this is true, I believe the scripture has an added meaning—that we are not just another species in nature, but that we are partakers of the divine nature,” he said. “God said both male and female are created in His image, meaning His nature, His character, His attributes are in us—not fully developed, to be sure, far from it, but nevertheless, we are of Him.”

Elder Christofferson remarked that the most poignant and powerful message of the worth of mortal men and women is God’s willingness to offer His Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem them.

“If the worth of souls is great in the sight of God, it is trifling in the sight of Satan,” commented Elder Christofferson. “He is bent on slowing and, if possible, destroying the progress and happiness of any soul. We see it in the violence, abuse, and despair he inspires in individuals and in societies. His philosophy is degradation, his policy is domination, and his method is coercion.”

It is especially troubling, the Apostle added, when Satan can persuade someone that his or her worth is diminished, or even destroyed, by sin. “Yes, sin and evil must be addressed for a soul to flourish and realize its full, divine potential, but no one who has not committed the unpardonable sin should ever feel that repentance is futile—that some malignant sin has destroyed the value of his or her soul.”

Elder Christofferson speaks to missionaries and couples preparing to lead missions during a devotional at the mission presidents’ seminar. Photo by Welden Andersen.

Missionaries attending the mission presidents’ seminar. Photo by Welden Andersen.

“Second, understanding the worth of a soul, a missionary must act with full appreciation of the divine nature in everyone he or she meets,” Elder Christofferson said.Posing the question “What does all this mean for missionaries?” Elder Christofferson said, “First, it means that there is no greater work than the work you are doing. … To assist in the redemption of those who bear the image of God, His children, is a service that cultivates greatness in you.”

“If you are filled with charity, those you teach and serve will feel it,” he explained. “They will not only respond to the love of Christ they feel through you, but many will also begin to gain a sense of their own infinite worth.”

The third point on his list of implications for missionaries “is a heightened awareness of your own potential and a deepened understanding of what it will take to realize that potential.”

“Over time, you will come to see yourself as you are seen and know yourself as you are known by the Savior,” he said. “Up to now, you have seen yourself ‘through a glass darkly’ [see 1 Corinthians 1:12]. In the next months and beyond, you will begin to grasp just how much you lack, how far you have to go to accomplish what God expects of you, and what He expects you to become. … The one who holds these high expectations, who is demanding so much of you, is the same one who has overcome the world, who wants to help you, and who can help you overcome whatever you must.”

The devotional was broadcast live to international missionary training centers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, and the Philippines and was carried in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French.

At the conclusion of the devotional, after the closing prayer was offered, some of the new mission presidents and wives, who were seated at the front, stood and turned to look at the large congregation of missionaries behind them. Someone began to wave to them; a few mission presidents and wives began to wave back. Soon, many of the missionaries and mission president couples were waving. Some among the couples, using computer tablets or other devices, began to capture the occasion photographically. It was as though everyone shared an unspoken bond of love and service.